By Chelsea Haith
Known for his diverse and occasionally naughty poems as well as his crusade against rhino poaching, Grahamstown poet Harry Owen recently performed at Café D’Vine alongside his singer-songwriter nephew, Conor Owen.
Harry’s work is well known to the Reddits poetry community who meet on the last Friday of every month at Café D’Vine on New Street. However, 13 May was the South Africa debut of Conor’s acoustic folk stylings.
His EP ‘One Step at a Time’ was released in December 2014 and features the tracks ‘One Step at a Time’, ‘Every Day’, ‘Piece of Your Heart’
and ‘The Average Man’. Conor wrote ‘Piece of your heart’ for a friend who was moving in with his girlfriend. He later performed the song at the couple’s wedding.
Conor is in South Africa to get a feel for the country and to visit his family. He borrowed a guitar for the evening. He jokingly refers to Harry as Barnes and said, “Ever since I heard Barnes was doing poetry evenings, I wanted to come out and see.”
“I’ve always felt that there was an interplay between music and poetry,” Harry said, explaining the genesis of the evening. “I love the notion that there is a musicality to language and it is expressed most eloquently in poetry.”
Harry is one of his nephew’s biggest fans, adding that, “Conor’s lyrics are themselves powerful and they tie in from that point of view.”
Writing from experience, Conor’s lyrics originate from his everyday musings about life, love and “girls who are like butterflies”, which mirrors his uncle Harry’s own view that poems “come from life”.
The EP shows off Conor’s diversity of styles which ranges from country to stripped down blues and includes a rockabilly set complete with harmonica on the final track “The Average Man”.
“It was wonderful to work with him, we’ve never worked together before, and to do it here in Grahamstown where I feel so much at home; people were brilliant,” Harry said grinning widely at the incredible turnout that filled Café D’Vine to capacity for the event.
Note: There were some inaccuracies in this article for which we apologise. These have all been updated.